David Cone was just trying to stay on his father-in-law’s good side when he ignited a Twitter firestorm between the Crimson Tide and Sooner nations.
Cone, a co-host of The Daily Wire’s popular sports podcast, Crain & Company, noted Saturday on Twitter that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, who had just led his team to victory against the New York Giants, was the first former Alabama signal caller to win an NFL playoff game since Richard Todd. Todd, a 1976 first-round pick of the New York Jets, helped his team win a pair of playoff games in 1982.
“I was only trying to put in a plug for my father-in-law,” Cone, who played quarterback at the University of Michigan before marrying Todd’s daughter, Darbi Lou in 2019.
— David Cone (@davidadamcone) January 24, 2023
The tweet drew 8.2 million views, a whole lot of impassioned comments, and even sparked newspaper articles from Tuscaloosa to Norman.
The problem with Cone’s innocent observation is that Oklahoma fans consider Hurts theirs. That’s because the current toast of the City of Brotherly Love had an unconventional collegiate career that saw him star as a freshman starter at Alabama and return as Nick Saban’s field general the next year, but then lose the starting job as a junior to Tua Tagovailoa despite a 26-2 record. For his senior year, Hurts, who had already graduated, transferred to Oklahoma, where he led the Sooners to the College Football Playoffs, finished second in the Heisman Trophy vote, and was picked by the Eagles in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft.
Calling Hurts an Alabama product ticked off fans down where the wind goes sweepin’ down the plains.
“Benched and set aside by Bama,” tweeted S. Powers, whose Twitter profile features a photo of legendary Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer. “Claimed by Bama. Typical.”
Even sports media got in on the multi-state melee Cone inadvertently started.
“Alabama Fans Have Launched A Very Odd Campaign Trying To Claim Jalen Hurts After Benching Him And Forcing Him To Transfer,” read a tweet from Barstool Sports.
Cone, who took on the critics in one of his Crain & Company “Get Off My Lawn” segments, stood his ground, and added that with players transferring becoming more common than ever, more schools will be fighting over which athletes belong to them.
“I never said Jalen Hurts didn’t play at Oklahoma, or ‘claim’ him as more of a Tide quarterback than a Sooner,” Cone said. “He had a great season at OU, and got drafted from there. If someone tweeted that Jalen Hurts was the first Oklahoma quarterback to win an NFL playoff game since [former Sooner] Baker Mayfield, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it, because it would have been a statement of fact.”
Todd, who took 264 sacks in his decade-long pro career, seemed glad to escape the wrath of Twitter.
“I’m just glad those 8 million people didn’t pile on me,” the former NFL star quipped.